For the last few weeks I have been attempting to change my attitude towards food, and given that I just lay on the kitchen floor and ate a Hobnob Medley bar without really thinking about it, now would seem like a good time to try and focus my thinking.
It started a few weeks ago with a call to Paul Levrant, a resident expert at Greatvine, who uses behavioural and hypnotherapeutic methods to help people lose weight for good. Greatvine had arranged for me to speak to Paul to test out their one-to-one phone advice service.
I was a bit nervous before the call, as I’m not really a phone person. I find it quite hard sometimes to know what to talk about, and was worried that once I’d got past ‘but I just can’t not put another biscuit in my mouth’ that I would run out of things to say. Fortunately Paul was very chatty and easy to talk to, and the time whizzed by without too many awkward pauses at my end.
I’d be the first to admit that I have what I suspect is an unhealthy relationship with food. I think about eating a lot. Really quite a lot. And if I’m not thinking about it, it’s probably because I’m distracted eating a Jaffa Cake. I try not to think about it, I try to eat less, but it’s a compulsion. I’ve tried to be objective, to think carefully about how food tastes and feels in my mouth as I eat it, to work out exactly what makes it so addictive, but nothing has helped.
Paul’s approach is slightly different to your typical ‘diet’. In fact, one of the first things he tells me is that I need to ‘surround myself with snacks’.
This is my kind of dieting.
I describe to Paul the picture I am imagining – me leaning back in a big leather swivel chair, smiling to myself, with towers of biscuits piled up around me, like a pirate admiring his mountains of gold. Apparently that is not quite the sort of snack Paul had in mind.
The theory though is something I can relate to. Paul explains that basically we are primitive beings, and that our first instinct is a survival one. Our body doesn’t know that we have a fridge full of pate, it only knows that when you diet, it panics, imagining you as a hunter, unsure of where the next handful of berries or mouthful of boar will come from. Basically, when you don’t eat regularly – around every two-three hours – your bodies worries.
I asked if this would explain my anxiety around buffets, and the urge I feel to eat everything within sight all the time and apparently yes, it does. Turns out I’m not greedy, I just have strong survival instincts.
By surrounding yourself with snacks, you are reassuring your body that you care about it, that you are providing for it, and that it needn’t worry on the boar and berry front, as snacks will always come. If you do this all the time, the idea is that your body relaxes, safe in the knowledge that food will always be around, and subsequently the urge to overeat reduces.
This really resonated with me, and I have made a concerted effort since the call to eat more often. It sounds like a perverse way to lose weight, but it makes sense to me, and I definitely feel like I’m thinking less about food, knowing there is a snack just around the corner.
Paul was full of loads of other great tips and analogies, but if I told you them all I’d be doing him out of a job wouldn’t I?
For more information about Paul, visit his page on the Greatvine website.